The pug raced across the street toward us as fast as his short legs could carry him. The sight might have been comical if I had been alone. Instead, Philip was a step ahead picking up something from the sidewalk. Roscoe was on my left, straining against his leash to urinate on a particular blade of grass. The marking of territory was abandoned when he heard the other dog’s tags jingle.
Suddenly, the two dogs were a blur at my feet. Roscoe had his mouth around the pug’s scruff.
“Roscoe, stop!” I yelled. I pulled on his harness, but this only brought him toward me with the other dog still clutched in his jaws.
“Stop! Help!” I yelled again, looking around frantically. I didn’t want to reach down to separate the dogs for fear that one of them would bite me.
“Stop, Roscoe, stop!” I screamed again. “Someone help!” I pleaded to the empty street.
Philip jumped and giggled in delight. I felt sick to my stomach, afraid that he might try to reach into the fray or run off once he lost interest in the ruckus.
A man rushed toward us yelling, “Hey, stop it!”
I futilely pulled on Roscoe’s leash once more as the man reached down to scoop up the pug.
“I’m sorry,” he said to me. “Dumb ass,” he said to the pug as his wife hurried to his side.
“It’s okay. Is he okay?” I asked breathlessly.
“He’s fine. I’m so sorry,” the man apologized again.
“I just don’t want him to be hurt,” I said.
“It’s our fault,” said the woman. “He got loose from our yard.”
“It’s okay,” I convinced myself, grabbing Philip’s hand so we could continue.
“Sorry!” I heard the man say behind my back.
I turned and waved with a trembling hand. Sweat poured down my back as we moved through the humid evening air.
“Gee, just trying to take a nice walk,” said a woman from her porch where she had observed the altercation.
“Yes,” I agreed with a slightly hysterical laugh. “I was so worried that he would hurt that dog.”
We walked on, my heart slamming against my ribcage. I realized it wasn’t the walk that increased my heart rate. We were only halfway up the block from our house when the confrontation occurred. My lips trembled and my eyes blurred with tears as I imagined the terrible, non-existent outcomes.
I was still jittery when the clouds opened up and fat rain drops fell on us. I was hot metal, plunged into water by a blacksmith, now quenched and formed into hard, protective armor. Suddenly, the incident with pug didn’t seem so bad.
“Roscoe tried to eat a pug,” I jokingly told Peter when we returned home.
“What?” he asked.
With a throat still sore from yelling, I explained. “There was a pug that was loose. Roscoe had him by the neck.”
Peter observed, “He was probably trying to protect you.”
The statement was a sword that found the chink in my newly forged armor. I began to sob, weakened by thoughts of all the bad things that didn’t happen.